Pregnant women who develop gestational glucose (blood sugar) intolerance are at increased risk for metabolic syndrome three months after they give birth, says a new study.
Gestational glucose intolerance is less severe than gestational diabetes. Metabolic syndrome describes a group of factors (including high blood pressure, obesity and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol) that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study included 487 pregnant women who were tested and divided into three groups: normal glucose tolerance; gestational glucose intolerance; or gestational diabetes. Three months after giving birth, the women were checked for signs of metabolic syndrome. The researchers determined that gestational glucose intolerance was associated with increased likelihood of metabolic syndrome.
The study was reported online in advance of publication in the February issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
"The study findings raise the important possibility that women with gestational glucose intolerance and subsequent postpartum metabolic syndrome represent a patient population at particularly high risk for the future development of metabolic and vascular disease. Further research with long-term follow-up is needed to address this possibility," study lead author Dr. Ravi Retnakaran, of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto and the University of Toronto, said in a news release.
"Our data also suggest that glucose intolerance screening in pregnancy, as is currently practiced, may provide previously unrecognized insight into a woman's postpartum cardiovascular risk profile. Furthermore, glucose tolerance screening may identify subgroups of young women for whom cardiovascular risk factor monitoring may be warranted."